It came as a surprise when Abdurahman Alamoudi, an American Islamist leader, was arrested in September 2003 and accused of engaging in some James Bond-style activities. Here is an excerpt from the nearly eight-thousand word "affidavit in support of criminal complaint":
It was arranged for him to receive a sizeable cash donation during his stay at the London Metropole Hotel, Edgware Road, London between August 11, 2003, and August 16, 2003. Alamoudi told Special Branch [for National Terrorist Financial Investigations Unit, United Kingdom] officers that on the morning of Wednesday, August 13, 2003, he received a telephone call to his room from someone who spoke Arabic with a Libyan accent, informing him he had "something" for him. The individual arrived at Alamoudi's room and handed him a small "Samsonite" style briefcase. Alamoudi said there was no conversation and the visitor abruptly left Alamoudi's room. Upon opening the case he discovered $340,000 of United States currency.
What could this middle-aged political-type, an immigrant who had founded several Islamist organizations in the United States, who had worked for the U.S. government and attended White House functions, be doing?
After eight months, we finally have some hints of what Alamoudi was up to, thanks to a report in today's New York Times by Patrick E. Tyler, revealing (from unnamed sources) that Alamoudi was involved with a Libyan plot "to assassinate the ruler of Saudi Arabia and destabilize the oil-rich kingdom."
The proximate cause lay in the March 2003 emergency Arab League Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, when Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia exchanged insults in open session, accusing each other of selling out to colonial powers. Here is how the Christian Science Monitor reported the event:
Col. Muammar Qaddafi accused Saudi Arabian leaders of making a "deal with the devil" - paving the way for US presence in the region by allowing American troops to defend the Arabian peninsula during the Gulf War a dozen years ago. …
The ailing Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, his head draped in a traditional bleached-white kaffiyeh, did not disguise his rage at Mr. Qaddafi's remarks. "Saudi Arabia has never worked for US interests," he said, shaking his forefinger at the Libyan leader. "You are a liar and your grave awaits you." The crown prince stood up and walked for the door as Egypt's "live broadcast" of the proceedings went abruptly blank.
(The New York Times version more poetically quotes Abdullah telling Qaddafi, "Your lies precede you and your grave is in front of you.")
Alamoudi reportedly told prosecutors that he met with Qaddafi twice in 2003 to discuss an assassination plan. One of the Libyan intelligence chiefs who reports directly to Qaddafi, Abdullah Senoussi, convened the first meeting in June 2003. Alamoudi, "who had been summoned from the United States," writes Tyler, was present at the meeting and given instructions to work with Col. Mohamed Ismael, a Libyan intelligence officer now in Saudi custody, to start a "destabilization" campaign by recruiting among the Islamist opposition forces in London.
So vital was Alamoudi to the plot that Qaddafi had all others leave the room so he could talk privately with him. "Why do you cooperate with us against the crown prince of Saudi Arabia?" Qaddafi asked him. "Because I disapprove of what the crown prince said to you," Alamoudi reportedly answered (to this observer's ear, pretty unconvincingly). Qaddafi instructed him, "I want the crown prince killed either through assassination or through a coup." Alamoudi and Ismael apparently traveled to London to locate and recruit Saudi Islamists, spending over $2 million in cash along the way.
Alamoudi then returned to Tripoli in early August and again met with Qaddafi. "How come I haven't seen anything? How come I have not seen heads flying?" Qaddafi demanded of him. Alamoudi assured him that plans were progressing.
On August 13, Alamoudi received that $340,000 in London from Libyan intelligence.
Tyler notes that Col. Ismael corroborated many details of this plot and has added others of his own – such as the fact that four Saudi terrorists were to assault Abdullah's motorcade with shoulder-fired missiles or grenade launchers, apparently from a room at the Hilton Hotel in Mecca as the prince made his way to the Grand Mosque.
Finally, Tyler reports "a person close to Mr. Alamoudi" saying that Alamoudi joined the conspiracy "because he badly needed money." This is confirmed by the criminal complaint, which notes that when interviewed on August 11, 2003, Alamoudi "stated that he is the President of the AMF [American Muslim Foundation] and that financing the organization's work is a constant struggle."
(1) There is something vaguely preposterous about Alamoudi, a Washington-based bureaucrat, engaged in international intrigue of this sort, but it does seem typical of the Qaddafi regime's abiding incompetence.
(2) That Alamoudi, an Islamist, would be willing to work against the Saudi regime points to his being on the more radical (i.e., Taliban-like, anti-monarchic) side in the emerging civil war in that country; in other words, he is so extreme that he wants to overthrow the Wahhabi regime.
(3) The Libyan connection does not appear to be the only terrorist link Alamoudi maintained. The Boston Herald reported in October that Alamoudi's Palm Pilot, seized in August by British police, "contained the names of seven men designated by the U.S. government as global terrorists," then named three of those "global terrorists": Yassin al-Qadi, Youssef M. Nada, and Ahmed Nasreddin. The Herald also revealed contacts between Alamoudi and the leadership of Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.
(4) That the Muslim American Society on May 15, 2004, bestowed its "Special Community Service Award" for 2004 on Alamoudi suggests, sadly, that he is not some oddball in the Islamist network that dominates American Muslim life but a symbol of its extremism.
(For updates on this topic, please see the later entries at "United States of America v. Abdurahman Muhammad Alamoudi.")